the dyrt
THE BEST CAMPING IN
Illinois
617 Reviews 411 Campgrounds

There’s a lot more to Illinois than the great city of Chicago. Along with this exciting urban hub there are many natural areas where locals and residents alike enjoy getting outside. With 141 parks it’s no wonder the DNR created the motto, “State Parks, Great Parks” in 2013. This phrase is the title of their initiative to continue improvements on local natural areas with upgraded campgrounds and additional staff to cater to the more than 44 million yearly visitors looking for hiking and camping in Illinois.

People from all over the state – and even outside the country – take the short 1.5-hour drive from Chicago to Starved Rock State Park, where they can hike 13 miles of trails offering elevation gains on wooded pathways along the Illinois River. The 18 canyons serve as great places to spot waterfalls after a rain and families love ending the day with s’mores around the bonfire at the nearby Starved Rock State Park campsites.

Those looking to learn about the state’s heritage while camping in Illinois may head farther south to Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park & Memorial. This 162-acre park is 12 miles southwest of Decatur near Harristown, IL, and features the land where Abraham Lincoln first resided in the state. If you visit be sure to check out the memorials commemorating this important president.

People who want to mountain bike in this Midwestern state will enjoy heading to Palos Park, a forest preserve known for its excellent biking, hiking and equestrian trails that cover over 50 miles of terrain. When it comes to camping in Illinois, this locale offers beautiful facilities at Camp Bullfrog Lake where you can put up a tent next to a lake and hike short or long loops that end up back at your campsite.

If you want to check out the beautiful Lake Michigan drive to Illinois Beach State Park to spend time in the water along the 6.5 miles of sandy shoreline. The park is 4,160 acres offering ample opportunities for hiking, watersports, picnicking, fishing and camping. With The Dyrt, you can be sure to find the best camping in Illinois during your stay in the Prairie State.

Retrieving Results
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Recent Reviews in Illinois
Beautiful family campground

Family friendly atmosphere, big inground pool, 18 hole putt putt, lots of outdoor games, planned activities on the weekends, shaded sites, and air conditioned cabins! This place is a campers dream with great staff always happy to see you.

This is our camping spot!

I love camping at Rend Lake. More specifically, South Sandysky campground. It is clean, the shower houses are immaculate. It’s always fully stocked and clean. The beach isn’t littered with trash. It’s always a wonderful, relaxing experience every time.

A wonderful campground on Lake Shelbyville!

An awesome campground on Lake Shelbyville with full amenities! A great place for family fun and camping.

Great campground!

Really nice campground on Clinton Lake. Has a really nice beach for swimming and picnics. Have about 20 nice full hook up spots and a bunch of electric sites. Our family spent a week there and loved it.

Great little campground.

Great little campground close to Charleston and Eastern Illinois University. Not really anywhere to fish close, but nice quite park.

An awesome and family friendly campground!

A wonderful small campground with clean shower house. A great lake for fishing and kayaking. A hidden gem in central Illinois with a great little family owned restaurant. The staff and camp host are super friendly and helpful!

Remote and rugged

Excellent for tent camping when you want relatively easy access and still feel a bit of solitude.

Beautiful

Camp grounds are clean and easily accessible if that's what you're after. Also have a few hike in spots. Lots of boating and fishing. Also has areas for hunting during the seasons.

Great Park

The lake is great for boating and fishing and there are boats for rent during the warmer seasons. The camp grounds are good and there are a few small cabins for rent. There are also hiking and biking trails around the lake.

Remotely lovely

Tent sites with no electricity or water. Clean toilets and a covered pavilion for getting out of the rain when needed.

Beautiful camp

Very nice campground with electric and water.

Not good!

Not very well maintained by the State of Illinois. Restrooms are horrible! So many better places to camp in the Carlyle Lake area.

Very clean and family oriented.

My family camped here in a RV for 21 years till my step dad passed away. My friends and I camp here in a tent occasionally. I highly recommend this campground.

Hickory - Site 99

The Corps of Engineers campgrounds at Rend Lake are very well kept and a safe bet for a weekend away. Showers are clean, bathrooms all “flush”.

Campsite sizes vary, but all are reasonably spaced.

Nice Lake, Not so great campground

We reserved here last minute for Memorial Day weekend, 2018. That said, we couldn't be choosy when it came to getting a site and we ended up with Site 8. It was literally on a culvert pipe on top of the ditch. Luckily we were camping with 3 other families a little ways down the campground so we did everything at their sites 11, 12, and 13, which were pretty spacious. Those were right along the trail down to the lake, so we were able to kayak nearby and it was a short walk to fish on the lake.

There are no restrooms, only pit toilets, so obviously no showers. The campground was pretty quiet for a holiday weekend so that was nice. The playground equipment was a short bike ride down the road, but right in the sun mid day so the equipment was too hot for the kids to play on until evening.

When I checked the info for the campground on ReserveAmerica, it said that it had a beach on the lake, but when we arrived we discovered there was no longer a beach. The lake was beautiful to kayak on though, lots of little fingers to explore and see the wildlife.

Overall not bad because we came with family, but would've been sorely disappointed if that wasn't the case. Probably won't be back

Ranger Review of Rom Outdoors Vertical Limits Ski Pants at Lake Glendale

Located in the Shawnee National Forest, this sweet little campground has it all. Wooded, semi private sites (at least for tents), full hook ups for RV’s, great campground hosts, CCC buildings, new shower house, amazing trails at Lake Glendale and other nearby areas. Even on a rainy afternoon, there were plenty of campers at Lake Glendale, which resulted in us not getting a preferred site (46) but a perfectly good site instead (49). The sites were spotless and well maintained, with some having space under the trees for tents and some having just gravel pads. Our site was close to, but not on, the lake with easy access via trails. There were a few sites with good lake views, with the majority of those in the RV loop. The trail around the lake is about 3 miles; a nice hike that really gives you a good look at the park. On the hike you pass two large shelters built by the CCC as well as the boat ramp, damn, and swimming beach. For more wild hiking, go down the road 15 minutes to Bell Smith Recreation area (which has its own campground) and hike to the natural rock bridge (and climb the steel ladder), springs, or Devils Backbone.

Rom Outdoors Vertical Limits Ski Pant

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, from time to time I get gear to test and review. On this trip I tested out Rom Outdoors Vertical Ski Pant. In the midwest we rarely get snow before Thanksgiving, and our little ski hill usually doesn’t open until close to Christmas (when they have been able to make enough snow for skiing), so I felt really challenged with this product. However, with a full day of cold rain and overnight temps in the low 30’s, I gave it a real go. A few weeks later we had a sizable snow (for early November and the St Louis area) and was able to further test these out. Here’s what I found: The pants are really waterproof! I didn’t get wet at all even after setting up and taking down a tent in the rain, hiking through tall grass in the rain, and later, hiking several miles in the snow. At first I thought the pants were a bit short and almost exchanged them for a larger size. But then I realized that they are designed with length in mind for wearing ski boots. And I could adjust them a bit by adjusting the suspenders. Overall I was very happy with the ski pants, if only we could have real snow and real ski hills.

Pro’s:

  • Waterproofing is solid
  • Tons of storage pockets that have double closures (zippers and velcro) to protect your stuff; side pockets are deep and large
  • Cuff zippers to help with putting on/taking off ski boots and to vent
  • Zippered vents on insides of the thigh area
  • Adjustable, removable elastic suspenders
  • Fleece lining is super warm and removable if too warm
  • Adjustable waist with velcro as well as belt loops

Cons:

  • Unisex sizing (women are shaped different from men!); no tall sizes for slim builds
  • Only comes in one color, black
  • No reflective areas
  • The adjustable waist is only adjustable by two inches overall
Well maintained. Lots of wildlife,deer,turkey.

Greattach hiking trails. 12 miles of Mountain Bike trails

Spacious campsites, beautiful fall color, on the edge of a cornfield

Quiet midweek in tent camping area except for heavy equipment in field nearby. Large campground with open space and playground for kids. Short walk to beautiful lake.

Basic, friendly hosts, clean, lots of RV's

We camped midweek in October. The hosts were very friendly and accommodating. The showers and bathrooms were clean. It was cold! We were in a camper van. We should have brought firewood, as firewood was only available at an exorbitant price for very few pieces. We were told that the campgrounds filled up on the weekends with fishermen.

Corps of Engineers

Great campground well maintained. Expertly managed

Very peaceful camping,fishing, and kayaking

NNice lake for fishing and kayaking. Excellent restaurant on site also

Great place for rvs and tents alike

Lots of room, easy maneuvering for trailers/rvs, electric and water at each site; on site manager (at least in the summer) bery pretty lake

Lots of trees, shades, great campsites, friendly hosts and clean facilities

This campground qualifies for the senior pass for reduced rates. It is directly on Carlyle Lake, ,the largest lake in Illinois. It has activities for children on the weekends. The campsites have sewer and water on some sites, as well as other sites with electricity available. There are a lot of mature trees in the campground that provides plenty of shade int he summer. Many of the sites are blacktopped and large RV's will fit on the sites. There is a beach very near the campground that is within walking distance. There are also pools located near to the campground that can be used by the public.

No shade, no shower

No Shade, and no showers. This is a relatively new campground not too far (about an hour drive) from Chicago. We looked at this place when we were looking for a spot to camp for a local wedding. But, no shade in the Illinois heat and no shower made it unacceptable. There were paved roads and the sites looked large and level. There was water and electric And a dump stations at the entrance/exit.

Cook County Forest Preserve

It’s probably the closest camping to downtown Chicago. About 5 years in existence. Clean facilities with a few trails. Camp Sullivan is used a lot by scouting groups. There are lots of trees and it is somewhat woodsy. The best thing to me is Jack Gibbons’s, a restaurant directly across the street.

Shady and quiet

This is a great state park campground. They have electric sites, and water is available but you need to fill your tank before setting up camp. Sites are flat and most are pull through. Giant City has great hiking and wildlife viewing.

Great family campground

Nice campground, right on Crab Orchard Lake. Large sites, lots of room. We camped with several other families and everyone enjoyed this park.

Lots of room

This is not a typical KOA. The spaces were large and roomy. Showers and bathroom were very nice, too. We didn’t use any of the other amenities because we were just passing through.

Outstanding state campground

We spent 8 days in the campground. The host was excellent and clearly there to make the stay pleasant. Each site has electricity and access to water. Some have more.

All the hiking in the park is some of the best in Illinois. The visitors center has a lot of great information. The lodge has some of the best fried chicken anywhere and is very reasonable. Saturday night the dining hall was packed because of the all you can eat venue not to mention the excellent service

This is a park that would be better labeled as an unforgettable experience.